It was already morning, the sunlight came from the window lighten up the whole room. Everything was blurry, like a camera that is not in focus, so blur that he could only see blocks of colors blending into each other. Vincent moves his hand to the edge of the lamp table. As his finger was touching something hard and transparent, he grabbed the whole of it but tried to only touch the black plastic that is the frame. He gently opened the two temples and placed the temple tips on his ears. Through the lens, everything now is "in focus".
He didn't expect anything, however, a mission was assigned to him, exceeding his expectation. It must be not very important but important enough that they want it to be finished, so they decided to give it to the last person. Vincent. However, whether it is a top mission or a bottom mission, he takes it anyway. So after finishing his breakfast and reading the mission overview, Vincent grabbed his coat along with his suitcase and went out.
It was snowing. The weather hadn't been ideal for going out recently. The chill was getting sharper and the wind was getting stronger. But he was different from ordinary people, who would decide to stay at home, the cold should have not been a problem for him. Or, the organization would be so ready to kick him out.
This mission's objective was to contact the proud Mikado family. Mikado family was one of the oldest families that has been existing for centuries. They had been a patron of the organization. It was nice that the relationship between the organization and Mikado family had been mutual. However, the communication line with Mikado resident was mysteriously cut off and the family went silent a few days. Unable to contact them through the communication devices, the organization suspected that the family decided to reject the agreement and sent Vincent to check on them.
It sounded like it was all intended. Mikado family was a family that you didn't want to be on their bad side. Not even the strongest and most powerful would want to quarrel with them. If Mikado family really wanted to cut off from the organization, sending a low-value pawn would be most fitting. Funny how he could be the last man they would send on all other missions and the first man they would send on this mission. He was considering bringing his weapon but then decided to leave them at home. It wasn't usual for him to be careless, rather eventually, they would get the idea if they didn't hear it from him.
To get to where Mikado family resided, Vincent took a train heading east. The duration was 8 hours. He tried to work on his reports, but soon ran out of things to do to pass time and he could hardly sleep on a moving transportation. Fortunately, he did have an hour or 2 hours of good sleep and a warm lunch. When he arrived, the snow was still falling like crystal dust and covering every surface it could land. There weren't many people on the street, and Vincent was the only passenger who got off the train. It is a small town and with this time of the year, people would prefer to go to a place with warm sunshine and cool breeze.
Vincent approached one of the local and asked for the direction of Mikado residence.
"Oh?! You are heading to Mikado family house?" asked the local bald man.
"You are not from around here, aren't you?"
"Yes. It is true that I am not from around here. But I need to meet Mikado family."
"That's obvious. Everyone knows Mikado family and knows that they do not like peasants like us to pester them, especially trespasser. The whole area is surrounded by a stone wall with spiky steel fences on top. So if you are going there, you must have some serious business with them."
What the bald man said was true. You don't want to mess with Mikado family. Vincent felt a chill on his back, not from the wind nor the snow.
"I shouldn't keep you from your business any longer." he told Vincent the direction. "However, the mansion might be just a big pile of black scraps."
"Big pile of scraps?"
"There was a fire two days ago. It was big. Since no one was allowed to go into their residence, also since the house is isolated on that hill, the fire didn't get to townhouses. The fire just burnt and eventually died out."
When he arrived, the gate was wide open so Vincent just let him in. The local man was right, there was a fire here. It was still resembling a house. He examined a little bit from the outside and entered the mansion. The chance that he might run into someone was low since the family member must already be evacuated to another place because this mansion is not a good shelter in this kind of weather. Also, another key thing was the gate. The family hates trespasser so even if their house got burnt, they wouldn't want anyone poking around their house (lucky for them that it seemed none of the town people had been in the area). But the gate was open, meaning that the family doesn't see value in this place and left it unlocked for anyone can enter it.
It was like a labyrinth, a dark coal labyrinth. From his examination, it seemed the fire got everything. There were only charcoal and black corpses that tried to keep its former shape. However, something caught his attention. Through the holes that formed a window, there was a person sitting before they collapsed into the snowy ground. He rushed to that person to check on them.
It was a girl, wearing only a tatter sailor uniform with no coat. But the red blood on her clothes that contrast with the white snow was what caught his eyes the most. Her complexion was pale but there was still a hint of pink. Being out in this cold weather without a coat must make her faint. He quickly took his coat and put it on the girl. Her skin was cold like ice, but she was still breathing faintly. Without any hesitation, Vincent carried the girl on his back and started moving to a warm place.
The doctor said that she would be alright, it was just cold and exhaustion. She would be fine, just needing some rests.
While waiting for the girl to recover, Vincent gave a detailed report back to the headquarter. The first thing was the girl he found. Apparently, she is a member of Mikado family. He found her in the back garden of the mansion. She was out alone in the cold with her uniform. The second thing was the blood. There was blood on her clothes, not sure where it was from, but it doesn't belong to her since there was no wound on her body, only a few scratches that already dried. Aside from the blood, there were dirt and ashes on that uniform. The last thing was what was in the garden. At the first glance, Vincent didn't notice it. But after he got close, it was clear.
Those were graves, poorly made graves. The snow was piled up into a small mound, and each of them had a dried tree branch. There were some stones around each mound to make up a circle and a shovel was laying on the ground only a few feet away from the girl. The most important detail was there were enough graves to make up the number of member in Mikado family, excluding the girl. It could mean, most of the members are dead. There might have been a fight, which explained the blood on the girl's uniform.
"But why she was the only one left alive?" asked on the other end.
"I don't know. I will ask her when she wakes up." replied Vincent.
"Very good. You shall gather more information from her. Also, bring her back to the headquarter. We might also have some questions for her."
"And also, what was this young lady's name?"
"Mikado no Shiki."